Preparation is vital if franchisors want to maximise their time at exhibitions
If you’re recruiting franchisees, exhibitions are a great way to meet face to face with prospects. However, stands can be costly. Therefore, it’s important to maximise the opportunity, so the mantra ‘be prepared’ is a good one.
Consider the hidden costs before booking. Accommodation, travel, staff time, food and drink, marketing material and kitting out your stand all come on top of the stand cost, so budget the overall spend, not just the square metre cost.
Pre-show organisation is key. Having spent a number of years in event organisation, I’ve seen data capture forms delivered to the wrong place, marketing leaflets failing to arrive and one memorable moment when someone turned up at the NEC in Birmingham when they should have been at ExCeL in London.
Follow delivery instructions from the show organiser to ensure everything arrives as it should and give yourself plenty of time on build day.
A common mistake is to turn up with no clear plan. Sometimes staff just ‘sit there’ and hope people will come and talk to them. This approach doesn’t work. Staff need to be welcoming and prepared to talk - and talk some more. Avoid eating or being on your phone while on the stand, as not only does this look unprofessional, but will put visitors off approaching you.
Schedule a marketing campaign to your databases before a show, inviting prospects to meet you at the event. This can reignite old leads and give them the kick-start to potentially join your network. In addition, working closely with the event organiser may yield opportunities to participate in eshots or social media posts to encourage attendance at your stand.
Partnering with other industry professionals can be advantageous. Being able to point prospects to affiliates at an exhibition can give your prospective leads a nudge in the right direction on their journey to joining your network.
Data capture during the show also needs some thought. Forms need to be legible for follow-up later or for a few hundred pounds it may be possible to hire scanners. Discuss this with the event organiser to find out what’s available.
On the stand
Being able to filter visitors quickly while making them feel welcome maximises your use of time. Food can tempt people to visit your stand, but if visitors are only after your doughnuts it can waste time, with staff talking to people who are hungry rather than looking for a good business opportunity.
Good stand design can help. Visitors should know what your franchise offers within 10 seconds and don’t be shy about advertising your franchise fees, as this can quickly rule out time-wasters.
After the show
Finally, don’t overlook the post-show follow-up, as you’ll need to set aside time to contact interested prospects.
It’s important to do this as soon as possible, so make sure you have a team in place and block out their diaries to maximise the leads you generate. This is how you can work out if the investment was worth the outcome.
Jemma Tonge is business development manager at d&t, an award-winning chartered accountancy and business advisory specialist